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CAT has no jurisdiction to hear J&K Bank cases : High Court
7/3/2020 11:30:43 PM
Early Times Report

Srinagar, July 3: In a landmark decision, J&K High Court has held that the Central Administration Tribunal has no jurisdiction to hear the matters related to J&K Bank.
This significant order was passed by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey on Monday in the petition of candidates aspiring for their consideration in the selection process started by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited (the Bank) pursuant to notification no.HR-Rectt-2018-1564 dated 06.10.2018 for filling up the posts of Probationary Officers and Banking Associates.
The petition challenges the notice dated 15.04.2020 issued by the Bank whereby it has notified that the selection process conducted for the posts stands cancelled, and the fresh recruitment Notice no.JKB/HR-Rectt-2020-27 & 28 dated 01.06.2020 issued by the Bank inviting applications for recruitment to 350 posts of Probationary Officers and 1500 Banking Associate in which Advocate General DC Raina raised that the CAT Act is applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bank having been declared as a Public Authority, this Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain this writ petition.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed that after his Excellency the President made the Constitutional (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019 (C.O. 272) dated 05.08.2019 read with the Declaration made under Article 370(3) of the Constitution in terms of Notification G.S.R. 562(E) (C.O. 273) dated 06.08.2019; and after the Parliament enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019 (No.34 of 2019), the Government of India in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training), New Delhi, in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 18 of the CAT Act, issued Notification G. S. R. 267(E) dated 29.04.2020 extending the jurisdiction of the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench, inter alia, to the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Subsequently, by another notification, issued in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (7) of Section 5 of the CAT Act, the said Department issued Notification no. G.S.R. 317(E) dated 28.05.2020, specifying Jammu and Srinagar as the places at which the Benches of the Central Administrative Tribunal shall ordinarily sit for the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. Further, by yet another Notification no. G.S.R. 318(E) of even date, issued by the Central Government in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions (Department of Personnel and Training), New Delhi, in exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 18 of the said Act, the jurisdiction of the Jammu Bench of the Tribunal, was specified to be the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and Union Territory of Ladakh. In short, the CAT Act stands extended to the two Union Territories (UTs) and a Bench thereof stands established at Jammu for the two UTs.
Justice Magrey observed that the Government order clearly suggests that the posts are created by the Bank itself and recruitments thereto are, or are to be, made by the Bank itself. A further insight into the material elements, discussed in the aforesaid decision of the Supreme Court, vis-à-vis the Bank can be had from a perusal of the relevant Articles and Memorandum of Association of the Bank reproduced in the Full Court decision of this Court in Firdous Ahmad Tanki & ors. v. The J&K Bank Ltd. & ors and it is also not shown that the UTs have the right to suspend and/or dismiss any holder of the post borne on the service of the Bank; or that the UTs have the right to control the manner and method of doing the work of the holders of the posts borne on the service of the Bank, or that the payment of their wages or remuneration is made by the two UTs.
Further, it is not shown to the Court that the posts borne on the service of the Bank are under the administrative control of the UTs or that the UTs have the right or power to create or abolish the posts and regulate the conditions of service of persons appointed to the posts in question. Viewed thus, it can by no stretch of interpretation of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of section 14 of the CAT Act be said that the service of the Bank is, or constitutes, a civil service of the Union or the posts borne on the service of the Bank are, or constitute, civil posts under the Union.
Before parting with the file, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed that when the learned Advocate General appeared before this Court on 26.06.2020, apart from making a submission that the decision of the Full Court in Firdous Ahmad Tanki’s case was no more applicable to the Bank, and that by reason of the applicability of the CAT Act to the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh, this Court did not have the jurisdiction to entertain this writ petition as a Court of first instance, he touched the merits of the case, saying that by cancellation of the selection process midway none of the rights of the petitioners have been violated and that merely by participation in the selection process no right has accrued to them to seek completion of the selection process, selection or appointment; especially so when their right to consideration under the fresh advertisement notice has been secured and preserved.
Similar submissions were made by Sunil Sethi, learned senior counsel, for respondents 1 and 2. However, since the jurisdiction of this Court to hear the petition was under question, this Court declined to hear the learned counsel on the merits of the case then. Now that the preliminary issues stand determined, this Court would proceed to hear the learned counsel for the parties on the merits of the case on the next date of hearing.
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